I’ve been thinking about my sales style lately; trying to understand what I’ve been doing, and how I can be better. I’ve been in sales for the good part of 10 years now, but I’ve only been in sales for an AV integrator for one year. It is my first year really selling direct to end users as opposed to AV consultants and integrators.
Selling to end users is very different in that you have to prove your worth in terms that they understand and find valuable. Also, you don’t know if the decision maker is the Director of IT, CIO, or the CEO’s administrative assistant, so you have to tailor your conversation for your audience. It is fun and challenging!
This first year has been pretty good for me. I had an annual quota and I hit it in May! In 5 months I sold everything I was supposed to do in 12. I was shocked! There are many aspects that I contribute to my success. Things like a great company with management with vision, an amazing technical team, support folks that go above and beyond, but I have been trying to understand what has been my unique individual contribution to being successful in sales. I think I’ve narrowed it down to 3 simple things:
- Don’t make promises you know you’d never keep.
This is obvious, but let’s take it up a notch. Obviously, it is better to under promise and over deliver, but isn’t that just striving for mediocrity? Why not promise realistically and delivery more?! Every little promise you make can make a huge difference. You tell your client you’re going to send a datasheet as soon as you get back to your desk, DO IT! You say you’ll be in touch by next Wednesday, call them on Tuesday. All those little promises that you keep prove to them that you can keep the big ones like a design proposal in time for their budget meeting, or a project completion by their deadline. Before you make any sized promise think to yourself, “I’m about to promise my client something, can I deliver?”
- Be equally interesting and interested.
Be yourself. Be genuine. People buy from people. Have conversations that are real. If you open up about something that is happening in your life, your client will too. I’m not saying talk to them as if they are your therapist, just make conversation. “How was your week Mr. Salesperson?” “We are buying our first house!” “Oh really, I remember when we bought our first house.” Their kid is applying for college? Next time you see them, ask them about it. Write things down if you have to. I used to do that, but it is better if you are naturally interested in them. If you are truly interested you’ll remember what they said about their personal life and it’ll lead to a real conversation that just flows. If you are genuinely interested in them it leads you to be genuinely invested in their business. When you have their best interest at heart, they will want to work with you.
- Be valuable, not annoying.
As a sales person it is our job to engage our clients. We have to call them, leave them voicemails, email them, tweet them, and on and on. That can get annoying to an end user. Almost every time I am initiating contact with a prospect or client I think to myself, “How can I bring value to this communication?” What can I give the client that they need? Obviously they have something we need: their business! Maybe you know their company is launching a BYOD initiative or a new social media campaign and you just read the latest Forbes article about it. Send it to them! Then, for example, you can keep the personal conversation going by sending them an interesting blog post you read about the college where their kid is applying. Maybe you just really need to find out the status of their purchase order, your boss is breathing down your neck, your operations manager needs to schedule a technical team to be onsite, etc. You could just call and ask them for the order, or you can shoot them an email with an appropriate joke, “Just wanted to try to brighten your day with a little joke!” Maybe, just maybe, your email will jog their memory that they needed to get you that purchase order. If not, just call them again in a few days and figure out a valuable way to ask. Value can be brought in many simple little ways, and if your clients find you valuable in the small things, they will easily believe in your value in the big things and want to keep you around.
These three simple things may be common sense to some of you. Maybe they come across as obvious, but there is a delicate balance in making it all work, and there is no magical formula. That’s one thing I love about sales. Every client is different; every action counters a separate and intricate reaction.
Ultimately, what it boils down to for me is I don’t consider myself a sales person. I don’t see myself “in sales.” I’m an advocate for my clients. I am a bridge between their company and mine and I go to bat for them. I am completely there for them as their trusted partner, their confidant, their friend. A lot of people look at themselves as a representative of their company, I try to look at myself as a representative of my client to my company. I strive to become an extension of my client’s corporation. All these things take practice and I hope to keep getting better! In the end, it’s promises. Promises I know I’ll always keep.